Silicon Valley’s CTRL Virus

Silicon Valley was both the epicenter of one of the country’s first Wuhan Virus outbreaks, hosting the 2nd case in California and the 7th in the country, and of the technological tools of the lockdown, from contact tracing and drone tracking, to the virtualization of everything from education to socialization.

The tech industry represents the apex of both globalization and repression. On its massive campuses, foreign workers likely played a role in spreading the virus even as their industry became the public face of fighting the virus by unleashing a new wave of censorship and surveillance against Americans.

Before long, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg could be seen warning that the social media giant would delete any protests against the lockdown, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki declaring that any videos that contradicted WHO would be deleted, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates speculating about immunity passports.

And Google and Apple came together to build a contact tracing system that would track everyone.

Silicon Valley’s titans and monopolies want to be the heroes of this pandemic, but the only things they have to offer are the totalitarian tools of surveillance that have destroyed public trust in the industry.

Santa Clara County has, as of this writing, experienced nearly 100 deaths. A Stanford study last month speculated that there were 48,000 infected. Even as Silicon Valley has helped spread the Wuhan Virus, it has its own form of immunity. Barbers can’t work online, but interface designers can. Tech industry stocks may have taken a beating, but unlike countless small businesses, they will bounce back.

And the virus culture of lockdowns and social distancing, wholesale civil rights violations and the elimination of privacy is trending the tech industry’s way. The massive databases of the huge monopolies are making it a lot easier for the authorities to track lockdown scofflaws. The creepy visions of an automated posthuman society have become the default response to the virus across America.

Social distancing is completing Silicon Valley’s vision of a world of isolated people who can only connect to each other through the mediation of their services. The brave new world in which Facebook is family, Twitter is politics, and Google is reality is a lot closer than ever before in the new Safer at Home society.

While the tech giants have much to say about what people can and can’t do, they have little to say about the origins of the Wuhan Virus and how Santa Clara County ended up with its own pandemic.

“China did a lot of things right at the beginning, like any country where a virus first shows up,” Bill Gates told CNN. In a Washington Post editorial, he described Microsoft China as a model of whose “roughly 6,200 employees”, “about half are now coming in to work.”

China is more than the tech industry’s partner: it’s the future. The social credit system and surveillance society, the skyscrapers and robotics, the high-speed rail and the massive factories are more than just TED talks, they’re a grim chrome-plated reality. The censorship, surveillance, and propaganda deployed by Silicon Valley in response to the pandemic was a Chinese solution privatized in an American fashion.

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